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How to write a strong Entry Level CV

So you are new to yachting – you have read everything online about what an entry level crew member will be doing onboard. You have read the blog from every expert out there who gives you advice. This is great and all….but you still have no idea how to write a CV that will get you noticed. We give you...How to write that Entry Level Yacht CV in Three Easy Steps:

1. Understand what entry level crew does onboard. Each yacht is different and the specifics will be a little different on each yacht, but there are some certainties that cross every position. As entry level crew you will be Working Long Hours (you may want to print and underline that), Working with a Small Team, Lifting Heavy Things, Working in the Hot Sun, Having Amazing Attention to Detail, Keeping a Smile on Your Face.

2.  Look at what you have done in the past (work, education, fun).

3.  Concisely outline in your previous work exactly what you physically did to show you are already experienced with Working Long Hours, Working with a Small Team, Lifting Heavy Things, Working in the Hot Sun, Having Amazing Attention to Detail, and Keeping a Smile on Your Face.

Seems crazy easy doesn’t it? It really is this simple. At the end of the day, every Captain, Mate, Chief Stew, Chief Engineer hates to recruit. They hate it. When they need to hire a new, entry level person, they want to see that you already have the skills they need – even if they have to teach you the specifics of their yacht! Show them it is you and you will see positive responses.

The Recruiting Power of a Great Job Description

As a crew agent, I work both sides of the deal. I want to find the right Candidate to fill the job, and the right job so the candidate to meets their goals. We all know the value of the Candidate clearly communicating in their CV and how that will help the employer quickly find them in the crowd of applicants, but this is only half of great recruiting.

The other half: how does an employer stand out in the crowd of jobs to attract the attention of the best possible candidates?

For doubters of this issue – look at Monster.com, Career Builder, and every Crewing Agent out there. We exist because employers want to be able to meet the best possible candidates for their positions. They actually pay us for that help!

OK, I’m already getting wordy so let’s get to how an employer can stand out in the crowd to applicants.

• Know exactly what you want the employee to do.

• This sounds entirely too easy. Unfortunately many candidates are recruited with everybody assuming that the position is the exactly the same, company to company (or in my case – yacht to yacht). This is never the case. Each company, each yacht is unique. Expectations, strengths and weaknesses of existing teams, even the management style of the people in charge vary wildly from group to group. Clearly outlining what this employee will be doing (and maybe a bit of the why) attracts the candidates seeking this work.

• Understand and highlight the benefits of this position.

• This will be easiest for me to outline from a yachting perspective, so you land based folks will just have to cut me a little slack. Two equally excellent yacht programs, one that is doing a circumnavigation, the other sits in Monaco all year round are looking for a Mate to join the team. Assuming everything else is equal, the circumnavigating yacht should outline the adventurous, world-exploring aspect to attract those candidates who thrive on those experiences. The Monaco based yacht should clearly outline the benefits for somebody who wants to stay in the area, maybe able to get home to see the family occasionally. Every program has these “built in” benefits – use them to attract those candidates that see the added value. Never rely on the wages to be the benefit of the job – if you attract candidates only motivated by wages, they will leave when offered a higher salary elsewhere.

• Speaking of wages: Salary – either say it or don’t.

• How’s that for helpful? You know the value of the position. If you have a fixed wage, go ahead and publish it. No range – just the number. That makes it very easy for candidates to decide if they want to pursue a job at that wage. Using terms such as “Depends on Experience”, creates expectations that will probably be unfulfilled. All of us think the value of our work exceeds the value of others. Even worse, such vague statements may very well turn off top-tier candidates who know what they want and are not interested in being nickel and dimed. If you do not want to mention salary to leave yourself plenty of negotiating space – then don’t.

• Write the job description in the language you want the employee to use.

• Sounds like a no-brainer but bear with me. If you require somebody to clearly understand written Mandarin, write the ad in that language and all the rest of us will shoot right past it. On a more subtle note, if you use jargon – even commonly used jargon, you will most likely exclude candidates who do not quickly recognize what you think you are communicating. Also, note the style of your writing – if you are too casual, the more formal candidates will slide right past your posting, and vice versa.

• Lawyers – do not let them write the job description.

• I will give a quick nod to my Lawyer; Andrew is an amazingly valuable member of our team. Having said that if you have a Lawyer write your job description, you will end up with a document that looks like your ITunes User Agreement (I dare you to try to read that). If nobody reads your job description the chances of hooking fantastic candidates are slim. Instead, ask the immediate supervisor to outline the description – they know what the team-member needs to do and what the daily tasks are. They will also most likely be the person communicating with the employee on a daily basis – a good practice is to start that communication here. Don’t worry; you can still have your Lawyer review the description before you start recruiting. (I can’t anger Andrew too much – I’m a little afraid of him).

In other words, to attract the very best talent, communicate what you need them to do, why they will love it, don’t tease them with false promises, and don’t treat them like criminals – treat them as the high quality professionals they are.  

CV / Resume Help

Every week, a large number of people ask what makes for a great CV. Anybody who has worked with a crew agent knows that if you ask 3 different agents, you will get 5 different opinions on how to write a great CV. I’m going to skip the obvious (spell check) and the ridiculous (good quality paper). I can also tell you, you cannot make a CV that will be appreciated by everybody. If that is the kind of magic formula you are seeking - stop reading here.

 Instead, I would like to outline what makes it easy for me to sell you as crew (yes, I’m a crew agent, and selling sailors is what I do).

Your CV is a communication tool. It should clearly outline to the reader how you will solve their problems. Don’t think in terms of “let me tell you about me.” Instead think “let me tell you what I can do for you.”

When an employer puts out a call for candidates, they need something done. The better the program, the more well-defined the role they need to fill. This is key. No matter how many action verbs you use in your CV, if you do not clearly outline that you are what they need, you will not get a call.

A very quick outline for writing an effective CV:

1. Know the position you are seeking. If you cannot clearly identify what you want to do, then you cannot communicate that information to your next employer. 

2. Know what problems that position needs to solve (Captain: lead a small team to deliver the highest quality service to the guests in an environment of safest possible procedures … or … project managing a new build program from design to delivery. Same position, very different set of problems.)

3. Concisely communicate that you deliver these skills. The easiest way to show an employer you can do this is to demonstrate that you have already done it. If you have previously held the position then this part should be easy. If you are moving to a new position then you need to communicate the aspects of what you have done before that translates to what you want to do next.

4. If what you are writing does not underscore the point that you solve their problems – leave it off or de-emphasize it. Your CV is not a list of every job you have ever held. It is an honest (never, ever lie) outline of what you have done that is relevant in both time and skills.

 As you may guess – your CV should change throughout your career. As you move up the ladder, those entry level positions should get less real-estate on that paper. Don’t just keep adding jobs – tell a cohesive story.

Lastly, if you are not comfortable editing yourself or need help expressing the above – ask a professional for help. They are not cheap but they are well worth the cost. At Preferred Crew we do not offer this service – but we frequently point crew toward AdBits in Fort Lauderdale – they do a great job with crew CVs.

I hope this helps and I look forward to some great communicating CVs!